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Monday, March 22, 2010

Breaking Ground

Starting a new spec script is an arduous process for me -- from picking the show to finding the story, there's a whole mental game that I have to play in order to drag myself up and over the finish line.

On the bright side, this's spec script #3 and things are starting to fall into place a little bit easier now.

The games are still there, it's just that I'm more aware of the rules now; more able to sense where and when my resolve's going to flag; more able to push myself that lil' bit further.

See, I can't just let myself pick a show and write a script -- even if I like it and know it well.

No, I have to get medieval on it.

I go back and watch every episode of the season I want to place it in.

I write down every act out and summarize every episode.

And that's just the warm up swing.

Once I've got a sense of the episodes that I like the most -- the ones that resonate strongest -- I pick 3 and I break them down fully.

In a spreadsheet: scene by scene, what happens, what's revealed and by whom.

Who shows up when? How often and with whom?

How long is each scene (to the second)? Where does it takes place?

I scour it all, looking for overlap or underlap or ... lap...?

I include lines of dialogue that best reveal the characters -- especially witty dialogue (which I break down later) -- and make copious notes scene by scene.

Where are things revealed or hinted at? What was the best joke and why?

Yeah, sometimes I think I'm taking it a bit too far.

The good news is that this process -- these games -- have, so far, resulted in the two scripts you see off there on the side bar.

Both my Battlestar and Chuck specs were conceived in such a fashion and though the process was long and painful, I'm still quite proud of them.

Almost everyone who's read them and commented has complimented me about how well they mirror their respective shows, how close the characters sound and how real their interactions are.

That's no lucky feat. Or 'brilliant talent'...

It's just hard work.

And it pays off.

Of course, every process is refined and such over time -- the process that created my Battlestar spec was indeed the alpha version of the process that created my Chuck spec...

This time's been no different.

In the past this lil' game of mine has taken up to a week... tho' I always figured that if I pushed myself (to a mind-numbed, drooling shell of a man), I could probably get it done in a day or two.

Well, that's pretty much what happened on Sunday.

(Tho' I did pause later in the evening to watch Americans lay the smack down on their old Healthcare system -- good job, folks!).

I finished over half the process in about 12 hours of steady, hunched-over-the-laptop, eyes-on-the-PVR action... and man, was that an experience.

Never before have I felt my mind so utterly and completely spent.

By the end of it, I was struggling to find the keys, let alone form cohesive sentences.

When I slept, it was a dreamless, formless abyss. There was no light or sound where I went, simply darkness and warmth -- I doubt the shriveled gray lump in my head could've handled much more.

That said, now that I'm recovered from last night's brain-binge I've spent the day with all sorts of ideas bouncing around in my skull. Some have coalesced, others have faded back to shadow but the long and short of it is simply this:

I've finally found my story.

Well, at least the seed of it.

It'll take some priming and massaging to get my mind ready for the planting of said seed, but I think I've got a good start now.

I know which direction I'm heading in.

Anyways, yeah, it's work and it's hard but what can I say?

I kind of love it.

Now if you'll excuse me for a moment, I've got some gardening to do.


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